Becoming a World Class Business Networker
In any profession, industry, sector, walk of life, there is a distribution curve of performance. Banking is a perfect example.
There's that 2-3% of people who bring up the rear. They never do anything and they're tough to manage. Like pushing milk uphill. These people sell the least, object the most, create the most problems, take up most of their bosses time and are the least motivated.
Likewise there's that top 2-3% of star performers who are simply world class. These people make the most money, sell the most stuff, have the most influence, get the best results and seem to have the most luck.
Then of course you've got that middle swathe of people who are average. Perhaps slightly above, perhaps slightly below. As well as applying to certain industries, it applies to certain skills. In every team there will be the best performing networker, presenter, seller, typist, coffee-maker etc.
If you want to be a better networker, you can do it. If you want to be world class, that top 2%, here are three world class tips...
1. Play the Numbers. Nobody becomes an overnight success. Every entrepreneur, every professional, every world-class performer has had set-backs. Every banking professional of note has encountered failure and defeat. Knock-backs and disappointments. What connects them all is their knowledge that most people don't come back from even minor setbacks. So if they just keep going and get back up again, they'll play the numbers to their advantage.
Example: You go networking once, twice, three times. You don't get anything from it. You don't enjoy it. You don't contribute anything worthwhile. Most would turn their backs on networking. But if you stick with it, you'll gradually thin the crowd of people who hang in there and build the relationships that matter. You'll begin to have the conversations that count. You'll start to make it work. Famous cyclist Lance Armstrong talked about having 'miles in the bank' - those training hours he put in to ensure peak performance. Most people won't. If 1 in 20 make great money from their networking efforts, you can beat most of the other 19 people just by sticking with it and playing the numbers.
2. Enhance Your Skills. You won't raise your banking game simply by doing the same thing over and over. You do not fulfil your potential merely by the passing of time. So what gives you the edge? It's your education, your training, your skill development. That's what makes you a 'best in class' banker.
Example. A personal one here. Years ago I was in a role selling private medical insurance for a leading healthcare organisation. part of my role was networking to generate new business. I was a lousy networker. I made the decision to become world class. I looked at what the top networkers were doing, and emulated them. I read books, listened to audios and attended any kind of related seminar on impact, presenting, confidence, working a room, building trust and forging relationships. As a result, I multiplied my income by a factor of 15 in 13 months. If you want to earn more, you have to learn more!
3. Be Strategic. It doesn't matter how good you are at working a room. If you're in the wrong room with the wrong people having the wrong conversations, you'll soon get frustrated. So a lot of my work involves helping professionals devise the right networking strategy that plays to their strengths. It also goes about connecting them to the people they need to meet and builds social capital with the right kind of network.
Example. A banking client worked in a sea-side town with lots of good businesses but very few networking events. He was struggling to meet the kind of businesses and accounting professionals (referral partners) he wanted to. Together we formed a strategic approach centred around online networking, a contact strategy using the phone and a sequence of self-hosted events. He's the top business winner in his area, yet doesn't go to any formal networking events. He has the right strategy!
Becoming world class is not an accident. It starts by making the decision to become brilliant. Then you invest in your education. You also keep at it, because you'll win in the end. Finally, don't just do things right. Do the right things right. Be strategic.